The Best Oxford Shirts Remain a Sartorial Force of Nature

The OCBD has been around forever. And it's not going anywhere.

September 20, 2023 12:37 pm
a collage of the best oxford shirts for men on a brick and ivy background
The best oxford shirts for men remain the sensible option for year-round wear.
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Chances are, if you were to poll every guy who’s even vaguely familiar with the r/MFA Subreddit on the most essential of the menswear essentials (the…essential-ist?), you’d get one of about four answers. A solid pair of white leather sneakers, a navy blazer that actually fits, a trusted pair of jeans, or, our personal favorite, an OCBD. And it’s undeniable that, thanks in large part to its boundless versatility, the best Oxford shirts for men earned a spot among men’s wardrobe staples.

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Originally an indicator of class and age, the Oxford shirt has evolved from an Edwardian-era college uniform to a bona fide do-everything shirt. Adopted by everyone from Miles Davis to David Beckham and denoted by a durable basket-weave cloth and a button-down collar — a diffrent style completely from a button-up shirt, as finnicky editors everywhere are wont to remind you — it’s a style you can just as easily bust out to a see-and-be-seen Fanelli’s romp as you can underneath the prerequisite navy suit jacket at your 9-to-5 hedge fund job.

Oxford Shirt Vs. OCBD Vs. Dress Shirt: What is the Difference?

You might have noticed that we use Oxford Shirt and OCBD interchangeably. News flash: Oxford shirt and OCBD mean the same thing. OCBD is, quite literally a (semi-stuffy) acronym for Oxford cloth button-down. Regardless of what you might call them, don’t get it twisted — it’s not a traditional dress shirt.

As we previously mentioned, the OCBD is made from a thicker basketweave cloth than standard dress shirts, and features the trademark button collar, as opposed to a free collar on a silky Charvet dress shirt or French tuxedo shirt. Not that this matters much: in this day and age, feel free to treat the OCBD like a classic dress shirt, unless you’re headed into an SDCS (serious dress code situation).

a photo of Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend in an OCBD
Much like the boat shoe, OCBDs are all about intention. Our intention: dress more like Ezra Koenig ca. 2009.

How to Wear an Oxford Shirt

Trend-agnostic and versatile as they may be, we still urge you to consider a few factors when donning an OCBD in this day and age. Even the best Oxford shirts for men can look Sandler-esque if you’re not conscious of length and fit, and while we’re fine with you untucking your little button-down for the Saturday morning farmer’s market, make sure the style isn’t hitting the knee-caps. Likewise, avoid back-bunching, especially in office; between slim-fit styles and the introduction of four-way stretch, you should have zero problem finding a shirt that comfortably tucks into your giant-fit chinos.

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We’ve done the OCBD leg work for you already, having rounded up a class of Oxford shirts that should make getting dressed that much easier. From classic Brooks Brothers shirting to luxe offerings from Thom Browne and Kingsman, there’s something for every guy (and budget). Below, the best Oxford shirts for men in 2023.

The Best Oxford Shirts for Men in 2023:

Brooks Bros has been making OCBDs for as long as OCBDs have been a thing, and with dozens of colors, a trio of different fits and a full size range, we can’t see a reason why they won’t be around as long as Oxford shirts are. They’re not flashy or particularly adventurous, but they are a solid option that any guy who wants to throw on a shirt for work and not worry about should seriously consider.

Everlane has taken uniform dressing to the next level with their curated batch of essentials specifically designed to pair interchangeably and generally provide you with a zero-stress option for every day of the week. Their Oxford is a standout of the collection: crafted from soft but durable organic cotton, it’s the right amount of roomy and looks perfect natural untucked or layered over your favorite band tee.

Low on jawns funds? Or maybe you just can’t be bothered to spend $250 on a single shirt. We get it. We’re guilty of copping four or five of Uniqlo’s Oxfords at a time and not giving it a second thought. They’re tastefully slim and a touch stretchy — just what you’ll need for a meeting-filled day at HQ.

Conversely, if a boring old Oxford feels pedantic to your Rick sensibilities, Thom Browne’s elegant take might just tickle your fancy. Impossibly crisp, the mother-of-pearl buttons, appliquéd logo patch and signature striped placket grosgrain all separate it from the competition. Skirt not included.

We’ll say it again for the people in the back — an OCBD is not technically a “dress shirt”. That being said, J.Press’s formal take is as close as you’ll get without popping in the French cuffs. Made in the USA from 100% cotton, it looks downright erudite with a knit tie and tweed blazer.

Yes, yes — not all fellas have a strict code for everyday life. Still, we urge you not to fall into the creative director trap — no one wants to see you in Essentials sweats and a painfully long tee. Instead, try J.Crew’s modern Giant-Fit Oxford option; oversized to perfection, it gives ’90s Armani, not 2010 cringe.

British tailors Drake’s have officially completed the transformation from tie brand to menswear label with their latest pinpoint OCBD. A vision in low-key elegance, sheeny, lightweight cousin of oxford cloth makes for a beautiful button-down.

Dressing to impress? Try British shirtmaker Kingsman, and prepare to blow your lame coworkers’ minds. Their button-down (and its barrel cuffs) just screams crisp.

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